Joshua Bonnetta is an artist working with film, video, and sound in various modes of theatrical exhibition, performance, and installation. His work has been shown within North and South America, the U.K., Europe, Russia, and South Korea. He is the 2009 recipient of the National Film Board of Canada award for “Best emerging/mid-career Canadian filmmaker” from the Images Festival. His most recent film American Colour will premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival’s Wavelengths series. He lives in Ithaca, New York where he teaches in the Cinema, Photography, and Media Arts Department at Ithaca College.
1. Recent albums I can't stop listening to...
Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet: The Breadwinner & Air Supply
A friend passed on their first album The Breadwinner to me a couple years back, followed up by Air Supply last year. I have been obsessed ever since. These collaborative works see two amazing artists come together and record at each other’s homes in Upstate New York and Maine. From what I can gather, Lescalleet works with, amongst many other things, ¼ inch tape loops of instruments and field recordings, whereas Lambkin uses his voice, mics and rerecording. They record in their actual houses and don't try to hide any of the creative/recording processes or the “imperfect” acoustics of the spaces in which they live and work. Creaking floors, analogue hum, mouse clicks, keyboard rattle, hard drive fans, noise, weather. Totally magical. I have never heard anything quite like it.
Nicola Ratti & Giuseppe Ielasi (aka Bellows): Handcut
Everything Ielasi does is pretty incredible and Ratti's solo projects are great but when they come together it’s the best. They basically took records and physically cut loops into them, causing the stylus to roughly repeat certain grooves in the LP. Instead of recording straight from the turntable output, they used piezos which create this spatial awkwardness and strange distance. They then laid these recordings back to ¼ inch tape on a Revox and manipulated it live with pedals and a sine wave generator. Such an interesting process and beautifully unique sounding work. I picked up the LP on Planam but you can also grab it off Ielasi's Senufo Editions with extended tracks!
Jim O’Rourke & Oren Armbarchi: Indeed
Won’t get much into this but it’s incredible: The long night, Tamper, Disengage and Despite the water supply. The Jim O’Rourke that I love combined with the amazing Grapes from the Estate, Triste, and Pendulums Embrace Oren, and then all of the sudden there is a banjo! Absolutely stunning and a strange companion to the Keiji Haino collabs.
B.J. Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa: Space Finale
B.J. Nilsen has consistently made some of favourite work over the last few years. This one’s from 2010. I just came across it and have been both inspired and obsessed with it. The album pairs Nilsen with longterm collaborators Stilluppsteypa to create super-warm saturated analogue drones, wobbly tape loops, and disarticulated field recordings. All on a double-LP! I love it when you can hear the tape splices!
Richard Skelton: Landings
Composer Richard Skelton makes beautiful works that fuse sound and landscape. With a subtle touch of Lucier, he records and rerecords sounds, mostly stringed instruments, in natural spaces out of doors in the North English countryside. The sounds themselves are contoured by the natural acoustic signatures of the architecture and landscape of their recording locations. They inevitable pick up the site-specific sounds: leaves brushed against wires, water, birds, wind through abandoned farmhouses. Super sad and lovely.
Shrub & Rum
I was in Cornwall U.K. over the summer shooting and doing some field recording for an upcoming installation on the first transatlantic transmission. The only place to eat or drink was a pub thirty minutes walk along the coastal path in a fishing town called Cadgwith. They have a local drink there called a shrub which is a old English cordial mixed with black rum. Originally the idea to mix the cordial with the rum was to mask the taste of salt water that had leaked into the barrels during smuggling. A regular size one is called a shrub and a small one is called a twig. I drank my first with a retired fisherman named Sharkey. Cold and soaked with rain all week, it was the best warm-up drink ever and made the haunted walk home less frightening
Dog Fish Head 60 minute IPA
Despite what you have heard, American beer doesn’t suck. There are amazing microbrews in the States; my favourite being the 60 minute IPA from an east coast brewery called Dog Fish Head. It is the most delicious beer I have ever had, with the exception of my good buddy Mitchell Akiyama’s home brews from scratch, which are too good for words.
3. The Death of Cinema
Paolo Cherchi Usai was the senior curator at George Eastman House and, to quote D.N. Rodowick, is “a film historian and archivist who is also a philosopher”. Usai wrote this beautiful and poetic book on the philosophical concerns surrounding archiving and trying to preserve a medium that paradoxically is defined by its “structural impermanence”. I’ve been rereading this along with Rodowick’s Virtual Life of Film and Mary Anne Doanes’ The Emergence of Cinematic Time, and will forever be happily trying to wrap my head around what it means to be an artist working with film.
Initially I picked one up as a teaching aid to help explain additive colour to my cinema students. Since then I have totally become obsessed and am now refracting light through every window in the house. This is much to the chagrin of my partner, Elisabeth Belliveau, who worries that she may have inadvertently married a hippie (not true).
Recently I’ve been migrating all my older works to upload and have turned up a ton of early stuff I made with my first love: VHS. I forgot how beautiful the image could be. The glowing traces of tubes, the saturation, the analogue breakup, the visual hiss. I am on the third camera now that has broken or the battery has died. I hope to find a working one before the snow flies.
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